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How a Tax Accountant Can Save Truckers Time and Money

Learn how tax accountants save truckers time and money. Essential reading for drivers and managers aiming for financial ease and bigger profits.

4 mins readFebruary 29, 2024

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Author's Bio:

Tanya Akimenko, CEO of Golden Apple Agency and an IRS Enrolled Agent since 2005, excels in strategic tax planning, saving clients thousands. As a seasoned QuickBooks ProAdvisor, she offers bespoke QuickBooks services, from setup to monthly bookkeeping, strengthening businesses financially. Her expertise and innovative approach to tax and financial management establish her as a trusted leader in her industry.

In the world of trucking, managing money and taxes can be as tricky as navigating a tight corner with a full load. This article is your roadmap, designed especially for truck drivers and fleet managers. We're diving into the must-knows about taxes, how a tax accountant can be your best ally, and tips for picking the right one to keep your finances in top shape.

By sticking with us till the end, you'll learn how to dodge financial potholes. Get ready to gear up your trucking business for success, making tax time a breeze and your wallet a bit heavier.

Tax Obligations and Opportunities for Truckers

Skipping your quarterly tax payments? Watch out! Late fees and added interest can stack up fast, putting a dent in your wallet.


Saving Up for Taxes: What You Need to Know


Trucking has its ups and downs, especially at the start of the year when things can be slow. Getting ready for tax time means setting some money aside.

How Much to Save: Think about saving 25% to 30% of what you earn each week after expenses. Here's the simple breakdown: about 15.3% goes toward your Social Security and Medicare (that's your self-employment tax), and the rest is for your income tax and any state taxes.

For example, if you take home $1,000 a week, stashing away $250 to $300 for taxes would be a smart move.


Organizing Your Tax Money


Setting Up a System: Set up an auto-transfer to a bank account just for your taxes. This way, a piece of every paycheck automatically goes into this account, making tax payments a no-brainer.

For instance, if you decide to save $250 from that $1,000 weekly income, it automatically moves to your tax savings account without you lifting a finger.

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Figuring Out Your Tax Payments


How to Calculate: Since your income might change month to month, it's best to base your tax payments on what you actually make. This keeps you from paying too much or too little. If you can't pay the full amount you owe for the quarter, paying something is better than nothing.

The IRS has a "safe harbor" rule, meaning if you pay at least as much as you owed in taxes last year, split into four payments, you won't get penalized for underpaying throughout the year. Here's where you can learn more about the safe harbor rule: IRS Safe Harbor Rule.


Paying Your Quarterly Taxes


How to Pay: You can pay your federal taxes online at the IRS website or through the IRS2Go app. Many states let you pay your taxes online, too. Planning ahead by using your tax refund to cover next quarter's taxes can also help lighten the load.

Remember, while paying taxes quarterly might seem optional, doing it right saves you from giving the IRS more of your hard-earned cash through penalties. Working with a tax accountant can make managing your tax obligations easier, and help your business run smoothly.

Financial and Legal

We’ve asked expert accountants and lawyers to answer the financial and legal questions commonly asked by owner-operators.

Key Services Offered by Tax Accountants for Truckers

Navigating the financial aspects of trucking can be complex, but with the right support, you can steer your business toward profitability and efficiency. Here's how tax accountants play a pivotal role in this journey:


Maximizing Deductions and Avoiding Audits


Identifying Legitimate Deductions: Every expense from fuel to meals on the road can impact your tax bill. The trick is knowing what's deductible and keeping meticulous records.

The table below summarizes some of the legitimate deductions truck drivers, particularly owner-operators, can claim on their taxes:


CategoryDetails
Insurance PremiumsDeductible as business expenses; includes commercial auto liability, property damage insurance, and health insurance (not as a business expense).
Association DuesMembership fees or dues for trucking associations or unions are deductible.
Cell Phone PlansEntire cost deductible if used solely for work; if used for both personal and business, only the business portion is deductible.
Personal Electronic DevicesFull cost deductible for work-only devices; partial deduction for devices used for both personal and business.
EducationExpenses for truck driving school, CDL license maintenance, or business courses related to trucking are deductible.
Meal ExpensesDeductible for drivers away from home needing rest; can claim actual expenses or use per diem rates, subject to 80% limit for long-haul drivers.
Medical ExpensesOut-of-pocket costs for required medical exams are deductible.
Business ClothingCosts for specialized clothing or safety gear required for the job are deductible.
Dispatch FeesFees for load dispatching are considered a business expense.
Licensing FeesCosts for business licenses, CDL, and other required licenses are deductible.
Load ExpensesExpenses for items bought to safely carry loads, like chains and locks, are deductible.
Tools and EquipmentCosts for tools kept in the truck for repairs or maintenance are deductible.
Fuel and Travel ExpensesFuel costs, tolls, hotel costs, and parking fees incurred while on the job are deductible. Note that lodging doesn't have a per diem; actual expenses must be claimed.
Office ExpensesCosts for traditional office supplies and software needed for running your business are deductible.
SubscriptionsCosts for trucking business-related magazines or website subscriptions are deductible.
Truck Repairs and MaintenanceAll costs for repair and vehicle maintenance, including tires and vehicle washing, are fully deductible.
Sleeper Berth ExpensesExpenses for items in your sleeper berth like mini-fridges or bedding are deductible.
Source

Tanya Akimenko, CEO of Golden Apple Agency

"To claim these deductions, you need to keep meticulous records, including receipts and logs, to substantiate your claims. It's also essential to understand the proportion of use if an item or service is used for both personal and business purposes to claim the correct amount. "

Streamlining Processes: Tax accountants specialize in identifying all potential deductions, from the obvious to the less known, ensuring you claim everything you're entitled to. For instance, they'll help you leverage the following to help you lower your taxable income:

  • Fuel purchases
  • Maintenance costs
  • Certain meals and lodging as deductions

They also ensure your records are audit-proof, organizing receipts to substantiate every claim.

Real-World Example: If you spend $400 on fuel in a month and $200 on lodging for overnight trips, a tax accountant ensures these expenses are accurately tracked and deducted.

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Choosing the Right Tax Accountant for Your Trucking Business

Handling the money side of a trucking business can get pretty complicated. When the financial details start to feel overwhelming, or if you're worried about making a mistake that could cost you big time, it might be the moment to look for a pro.


When to Consider Professional Help


Getting an accountant isn't just about having someone to do your books. It's about teaming up with someone who gets what trucking is all about. They can help you figure out the best way to manage your money, stay on the right side of tax laws, and make sure you're making as much money as possible.

If you're scratching your head over tax payments, or how to handle all the different taxes and fees like IFTA and HVUT, then it's probably time to get someone who knows their stuff.


What to Look For in a Tax Professional


Choosing the right tax accountant means looking for a partner who understands the ins and outs of the trucking industry. Golden Apple Agency is an accounting agency with a solid background in helping truckers and trucking companies. They can help you with everything from figuring out your costs per mile, managing your taxes, and even giving you advice on how to grow your business.

With more than 15 years of experience and a knack for helping businesses save money on taxes, Golden Apple Agency has built a reputation for being super helpful to small businesses, including those in trucking. They're all about making sure your financial health is strong and that you're following all the rules.

If you're thinking it might be time to get a bit of extra help with your trucking business's finances, Golden Apple Agency could be a good fit. They're ready to work with you to make sure your business isn't just surviving but thriving.

Takeaways

  1. Understand Tax Obligations: Recognize the importance of staying on top of quarterly tax payments to avoid late fees and interest charges that can negatively impact your finances.

  1. Set Aside Taxes: Allocate 25% to 30% of your weekly net income for taxes, including self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare), income tax, and any state taxes to ensure you're prepared for tax payments.

  1. Automate Savings for Taxes: Set up automatic transfers to a dedicated tax savings account, ensuring you consistently save for tax payments without manual effort.

  1. Calculate Taxes Based on Actual Income: Adjust your tax payments based on your fluctuating income to avoid underpayment or overpayment.

  1. Utilize the IRS Safe Harbor Rule: To avoid penalties for underpayment, ensure you're paying at least as much in taxes as you owed the previous year, divided into four quarterly payments. More information can be found on the IRS Safe Harbor Rule.

  1. Pay Taxes Online: Utilize the IRS website or the IRS2Go app for convenient federal tax payments, and consider using your tax refund for future tax payments to ease financial pressure.

  1. Record and Deduct Legitimate Expenses: Keep meticulous records of all deductible expenses, such as fuel, maintenance, and lodging, to lower your taxable income.

  1. Choose a Knowledgeable Tax Accountant: Opt for a tax professional who specializes in the trucking industry and can offer strategic tax planning, helping your business remains compliant and profitable.

  1. Consider Golden Apple Agency: For trucking-specific accounting and bookkeeping needs, explore the services of Golden Apple Agency; such as tax return preparation,bookkeeping services, truck driver payments (payroll), IRS audit representation and IRS debt resolution. Learn more at Golden Apple Agency - Accounting for Truckers.

  1. Leverage Professional Help for Growth: Utilize the expertise of a tax accountant to not only manage taxes and compliance but also to gain strategic advice on maximizing income and optimizing your trucking business's financial health.

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